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Part 2: Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Top Winter Holiday Destinations in South India
In continuation of our series on the “Top Winter Holiday Destinations in South India”, we introduce the picturesque islands of Andaman and Nicobar. Located in the Bay of Bengal, east of Chennai, the Union Territory consists of around 550 islands out of which 26 are habited by humans. Some of these islands are inaccessible to tourists, since they are home to local tribes. By and large the archipelago is divided into the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands to the South and spread across nearly 800km.
Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, also has a modest airport. It requires a 5 hour flight from Chennai and around 2 hours from Kolkata. The sea route, obviously, is longer taking 50-60 hours, but can be a once in a lifetime experience, especially for those new to travel on the open seas. The islands enjoy moderate weather all year round. The best time to visit is during the cooler months from December to March. Don’t miss the 10 day island tourism festival held during these months. The tropical climate here is intercepted by the Monsoons, first the South-West Monsoons and later the North-East/ retreating Monsoons, with each bringing its own share of wet, inclement weather. Those living in coastal towns like Mumbai, Chennai, Goa, Kochin and Mangalore, would know what that feels like! The ‘umbrella’ is a must have accessory during these months.
The beaches here are sublime, serene and unpolluted, a huge contrast to the busy Calungute beach of Goa or the “happening” Juhu beach of Mumbai. Those who come here, do so to escape from the maddening crowds and instead spend some peace and quiet. A trip to the islands can be expense though worth every penny. Should you want a cheaper alternative, some of the popular but relatively calmer beaches on the Indian mainland include beaches on the Mangalorean coastline, Nagoa beach in Diu, Kovalam beach in Kerala and beaches near Pondicherry.
Next stop: Mangalore in Karnataka.
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